Alix Pryde

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Dr Alexandra (Alix) Pryde runs the Vodafone Consumer Product and Innovation team in the UK. Alix was formerly a member of the senior BBC Management team, and prior to that worked as Business Development Manager for Ministry of Sound and the Wireless Group. She started her career with McKinsey as a Strategist and Business Analyst.

Education[edit]

Alix Pryde completed a PhD in theoretical physics at Churchill College, Cambridge, after achieving a First in Physics at University College London. At Cambridge, she worked with Dr Martin Dove, her supervisor in the Department of Earth Sciences, on projects including Negative Thermal Expansion. Alix was also the President for the MCR while completing her PhD.

Career[edit]

McKinsey[edit]

Alix became a strategy consultant with McKinsey & Co, working on projects on broadcasting and the BBC. Alix is one of the authors of the McKinsey Quarterly report ‘Keeping Baywatch at Bay,’ which discusses whether public service broadcasters could fulfil their mission in the deregulated television environment. The report was written with Adrian D. Blake, Nicholas C. Lovegrove, and Toby Strauss.

Wireless Group[edit]

After leaving McKinsey, Alix became Head of Development for The Wireless Group plc, working with CEO and former editor of The Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie. The group operated around 20 commercial radio stations in the United Kingdom, including national speech station talkSPORT (sold to UTV in June 2005).

Ministry of Sound[edit]

Alix worked with David Campbell at the Ministry of Sound on a bid for an East Midlands regional radio license that was eventually won by Saga Radio Group.

King's College Hospital[edit]

In November 2015, Alix was appointed as a Non-Executive Director on the Board of the King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.[1] The Board is in charge of the Trust's direction and performance and is accountable to Monitor, which regulates NHS Foundation Trusts. Alix said, "I am honoured to have been appointed to the Board at King’s. The amazing teams at King’s have been there for me and for three generations of my family at so many important times, happy and sad, playing a vital role in looking after us."

BBC[edit]

Alix joined BBC Radio & Music Strategy in 2001, covering the BBC national radio strategy (both digital and analogue). In 2003, Alix was promoted to Head of Strategy for BBC News and subsequently BBC Journalism, where she led the Creative Future Journalism project alongside Mark Byford, the deputy Director General. In 2007, she became Chief Adviser to Caroline Thomson, the BBC's Chief Operating Officer. Alix had an introduction to broadcasting at the BBC station for London GLR; she worked for Chris Evans on his Saturday morning show but only achieved on-air recognition as “Chris Evans' tea-girl,” a role she claimed never to have undertaken as she doesn’t drink tea.[citation needed] She was appointed Controller of BBC Distribution in February 2009. In this role, Alix proposed a controversial scheme for DRM encryption of BBC content, which was the subject of a four-month investigation by Ofcom in early 2010.[citation needed]

Alix was appointed Director of BBC Distribution, in 2009, where she led the Distribution team, negotiating and managing contracts for broadcast distribution of the BBC's TV and radio services in the UK, overseeing the technical digital switchover, and advising on future broadcast distribution developments.

London Olympics 2012[edit]

Alix was responsible for the distribution of all BBC coverage of the London 2012 Olympics across television and radio, with television distribution delivering over 2,500 hours of standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD) coverage during the 16 days of the London Olympics. This was supported by radio coverage on BBC Radio 5 Live and the DAB BBC 5 Live Extra, including the special event station, BBC 5 Live Olympic Extra. BBC coverage included distribution on BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Three, as well as the 24 SD and HD special Olympic channels accessed through Freesat, Virgin Media and BSkyB. Alix's team and BBC Distribution also enhanced television's ‘red button’ capabilities. The plan was to successfully maximise the UK viewing audience’s opportunities to follow every moment of every sport and every event, from every performance to every medal and from the opening ceremony to the last moments of the closing ceremony. The BBC's coverage of the London 2012 Olympics received positive reviews in the press, with particular regard to its depth and quality.

BBC HD channels expansion[edit]

As Director of BBC Distribution, Alix was responsible for creating the strategy to expand the BBC's high definition offer. Her team ensured the delivery of five new BBC HD channels – BBC News, BBC Three, BBC Four, CBeebies and CBBC – by December 2013, adding to the existing BBC One and BBC Two HD channels. Tony Hall, the BBC's Director General, said, “This year, people will be able to watch even more of our programmes in brilliant quality. I am delighted that we're able to launch our new HD channels in time for Christmas, when families gather to enjoy some of the best TV from the BBC.” Writing on her blog, Alix said, “In July 2013, we confirmed our intention to launch our five new HD channels by early 2014. But we couldn't resist the possibility of being able to deliver these early, in time to give them to you for Christmas. It's said that launching a channel takes at least six months. We will have managed to launch five channels in five months. So I want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the brilliant team of dedicated professionals, across the BBC, our suppliers and our platform partners, who have been pulling out all the stops to achieve this for our audiences.”[2][3][4][5]

A new channel: BBC One +1[edit]

In October 2013, it was announced by the BBC Director General, Lord Tony Hall, that BBC Distribution would be launching a BBC One+1 channel, adding to the bouquet of national, regional and local BBC radio and television channels across the United Kingdom for which Alix and her team were responsible. Alix's team were to provide a greater range and quality of BBC Channels than ever before. Lord Hall said audiences expected BBC Distribution to deliver a time shift service that would give people “more of what they've already paid for” as "BBC One… has to be the nation's favourite channel, and also its bravest.”[6][7]

IBC 2013: 'What Caught My Eye'[edit]

Alix was one of only three attendees to present a session at IBC 2013 entitled ‘What Caught My Eye,’ in which she showcased a new DVB technology that allows broadcasters to deliver 4K quality over the air using a terrestrial TB signal (4K TV). Alix used the session to urge Brussels (European Union) and all regulators not to ignore terrestrial broadcasting and its importance and value to consumers in the cost-efficient distribution of great programming and information. “People completely underestimate the heavy lifting that broadcast and terrestrial transmission can do. They think the future is mobile broadband, but they underestimate the amount of data we deliver to people’s homes. While we should look at different ways to deliver content, we would be fools not to invest in traditional broadcasting. Terrestrial is an incredibly well established technology and can carry thousands of times more traffic than mobile broadband.”[8]

Radio Festival 2013[edit]

Alix gave the keynote speech at TechCon at the start of the 2013 Radio Festival in Salford announcing that the BBC would add 162 new digital radio transmitters to improve UK-wide DAB coverage for its national network stations to more than 97%, reaching an extra 2.5 million people and improving coverage for millions of others. Alix said, “We’re not just building transmitters to bring new towns and villages into coverage; we’re also building ones to reinforce coverage in key areas. Glasgow, Liverpool, Oxford, Leicester, Coventry, and Eastbourne are all examples of places which will get improved coverage for many, as well as coverage for the first time for a few. When we’ve finished, around 49 in 50 people in the UK will be covered by our digital radio network.”[9][10]

The John Logie Baird Lecture 2013[edit]

On 3 October 2013, Alix spoke at the John Logie Baird Lecture, ‘Is the Set Top Box Dead?’ The lecture brought together leading international broadcast and television distribution and transmission experts to debate whether the television set top box is now irrelevant and on the scrap heap of consumer broadcast infrastructure thanks to the increasing use of online services in the home and on the move, as well as the delivery of content to all sorts of devices, from mobiles to IPTV platforms.[11][12][13]

BBC Distribution is "good value for money"[edit]

In February 2014, the BBC Trust published an independent report by Mathew Horseman International Broadcast Consultants Mediatique on the cost, service and structures of delivering BBC visual and audio content to UK audiences. The report, on the BBC Distribution Team and Management led by Alix, concludes that the distribution service provides “good value for money” and also commented on the “routinely high calibre” of staff supporting distribution activities, as well as the clear approach that was in place to deal with future challenges in this area. The report also noted that the “corporation spent £233m in the last financial year distributing content to TV, radio and online audiences – a figure representing 6.5% of the licence fee. This was well below the 10% ceiling set by the BBC.” BBC Trust vice-chairman Diane Coyle said, 'This report shows that the BBC is doing just that while providing good value for money for licence fee payers, with arrangements in place to ensure that it continues to fulfil its distribution commitments in the future.” Alix said, “I’m really pleased that this independent review has commended the high calibre of BBC Distribution staff and the good value for money they deliver for licence fee payers. It shows the power of a multi-disciplinary team taking a holistic approach to get the best possible performance from our suppliers.”[14][15]

BBC and BSkyB reach agreement over retransmission payments reduction to zero[edit]

Alix’s team was key in the Spring 2014 negotiations to reduce the BBC’s payments to Sky for the re-transmission of BBC television and radio services to zero. This agreement negotiates a further saving of £4.5 million per annum after the 50% reduction from £10 million a year negotiated in 2011. The removal of fees sees BBC Distribution providing a continued saving for the BBC while adding services like the BBC HD platform and the announced BBC +1, to be launched in 2014.[16]

Leaving the BBC[edit]

In January 2014, Alix announced that she was leaving the BBC after 12 happy and successful years to run Vodafone’s Consumer Product Department. “We'll miss Alix a great deal,” admitted Peter Coles, the BBC’s Chief Technology Officer. “She's demonstrated superb commitment to the BBC's viewers and listeners, and to her team, and we'll miss her sense of fun. But at the same time, I'm really pleased for Alix, who has secured this exciting opportunity to develop her career with another global brand while doing what she excels at: launching new and enhanced services for consumers."[17]

Vodafone[edit]

In March 2014, Alix joined Vodafone to run the Consumer Product and Innovation Team in the UK.[17][18] Vodafone UK is a provider of telecommunications services in the United Kingdom, and a part of the Vodafone Group, the world's second-largest mobile phone company. As of March 2012, Vodafone UK has 19.2 million subscribers. In 2014, Vodafone knocked Shell off the top spot as Britain’s most valuable brand, with the telecoms company’s identity valued at £17.9bn, against the oil major’s £17.3bn.[19]

Since joining Vodafone, Alix and her team have secured deals for the company and its customers with Netflix and Google's Chromecast. Alix was quoted in the September 8, 2014 issue of the Financial Times on the topic of Vodafone launching a payments plan in the UK. She said, "The pieces are falling into place. There are the devices, the contactless payments and, increasingly, the consumer behaviour to make this a success." [20][21][22][23]

In the September 20, 2014 issue of The Times, Alix spoke about Vodafone's plans to launch its own mobile payments system. She was quoted as saying, "It’s a way for us to give people a way to get more from their mobile and encourage their loyalty. All the pieces are coming together now – most consumers have the handsets, there are many more contactless terminals and, importantly, consumer behaviour has changed because people are more open to contactless payments and there is a trend of people doing more and more with their mobiles every day." [24]

Awards and Fellowships[edit]

In 2008, Alix was named Shell's Media Woman of the Future; the judges said, “Alix is an incredibly multi-faceted individual whose achievements reflect her own diversity. Despite the pressure of her role, she has found the time to mentor other women who are embarking on a similar journey and who may otherwise fail to take that crucial first step.” Alix was one of Management Today's ‘35 under 35’ young businesswomen to watch again in 2008.

The Times (of London) named Alix in article titled ‘Why aren't these women in Britain's top boardrooms?’ (25 February 2011). The article argued that more women should be in Britain's business boardrooms, and then listed a number of top women it thought would be suitable, including Alix.

Alix was chosen as one of the finalists in the 2012 Every Woman in Technology Awards. (BBC Ariel - 10 February 2012)

In 2011, Alix was elected as a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, and is also a BBC performance coach.

Other Honours[edit]

Finalist, Media category, First Woman Awards, 2012

Finalist, Technology category, Achievers Academy for Women Awards, 2012

'30 Under 30,' MediaWeek, 2003

MCR [Graduate] President, Churchill College, Cambridge, 1996

Top Physics Graduate, University of London, 1994

Top Graduate, University College London, 1994

Young Journalist of the Year, The Times, 1990

Personal life[edit]

Alix lives in South London and is married with a son and a daughter.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "King's College Hospital welcomes new Non-Executive Director - King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust". 
  2. ^ "Cbeebies sharpen up! BBC to launch five further HD channels". 16 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "BBC to launch five new HD channels as Freeview expands". 
  4. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2013/BBCHDChannels.html
  5. ^ Collins, Katie. "BBC launches five new subscription-free HD channels in time for Christmas". 
  6. ^ "BBC plans to launch BBC One +1". 
  7. ^ "BBC launches five new HD channels". 
  8. ^ http://www.ibc.org/page.cfm/action=library/libID=31/libEntryID=1594
  9. ^ "Making Waves: extending the BBC's digital radio coverage to a further 2 million people". 14 October 2013. 
  10. ^ Martin, Roy. "162 new BBC DAB transmitters in two years". 
  11. ^ http://tv.theiet.org/channels/news/18342.cfm
  12. ^ "Is the Set Top Box Dead? - Alix Pryde". 
  13. ^ "Is the set-top box dead?". 17 October 2013 – via bbc.co.uk. 
  14. ^ "BBC distribution is 'good value for money'". 5 February 2014 – via bbc.co.uk. 
  15. ^ http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/review_report_research/vfm/distribution.pdf
  16. ^ Plunkett, John (28 February 2014). "BBC and BSkyB reach agreement over retransmission payments". 
  17. ^ a b "Alix Pryde to leave BBC for Vodafone". 28 January 2014 – via bbc.co.uk. 
  18. ^ "BBC distribution boss to join Vodafone". 
  19. ^ "Vodafone gains top spot as Britain's most valuable brand". 
  20. ^ http://www.vodafone.co.uk/shop/pay-monthly/entertainment-packs/netflix/
  21. ^ "YouTube". 
  22. ^ "Google's Chromecast lands at Vodafone UK". 28 July 2014. 
  23. ^ Thomas, Daniel; Correspondent, Telecoms (7 September 2014). "Vodafone to launch UK mobile payments" – via Financial Times. 
  24. ^ "With wave of a phone, wallets are history - The Times".